Life after the flood. Studying Genesis 8:1-13

In Genesis 8, after the flood, God causes the waters to subside. It is a passage which points us to the gospel. 

Genesis 8:1: 

But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided. 

As God remembers Noah, it is covenant language. God hadn’t forgotten Noah but when God “remembers,” in the Old Testament it is a precursor to divine action. As God makes a wind blow over the earth, we see God undoing the flood. 

Genesis 8:2: 

2 The fountains of the deep and the windows of the heavens were closed, the rain from the heavens was restrained

From chaos, God is bringing restoration. 

The most wonderful time of the year

Genesis 8:4 says: 

and in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat.

Genesis 8 says that the boat came to a rest in the seventh month. In the Jewish calendar, the seventh month is the most important month of the year as numerous feasts would be at this time of year including the Day of Atonement, the Feast of Trumpets, and the Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:23-36). 

For the birds

A raven and a dove play a prominent role in investigating the earth after the flood waters subside. 

Genesis 8:6-7 says: 

6 At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made 7 and sent forth a raven. It went to and fro until the waters were dried up from the earth.

Rabbinic tradition held that the raven was released first because it was not a bird fit for food (Lev 11:15; Deut 14:14) nor suitable for sacrifice.  

Regarding the release of the raven, Kenneth Matthews says: “Its departure from the ark signified that the impurities of the past had been removed and the creation of the new world had a fresh start.”

Unlike the raven, the dove was an animal which would be suitable in the sacrificial system (Lev 1:14; 5:7; 14:22). The first time Noah releases the dove, the waters are still too high and the dove returns. 

Genesis 8:8-9: 

 8 Then he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters had subsided from the face of the ground. 9 But the dove found no place to set her foot, and she returned to him to the ark, for the waters were still on the face of the whole earth. So he put out his hand and took her and brought her into the ark with him.

In Genesis 8:10-11, Noah releases the dove a second time: 

10 He waited another seven days, and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark. 11 And the dove came back to him in the evening, and behold, in her mouth was a freshly plucked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth. 

The dove returning with an olive leaf was a symbol of life. 

In the Old Testament, when kings, priests, and some of the prophets were anointed, it was with olive oil. 

The oil was not significant in itself, but it was significant as a symbol of the presence of the Spirit of God. 

1 Samuel 16:13 says: 

13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah. 

We also see a connection of a dove and the Holy Sprit at the baptism of Jesus. 

Mark 1:10 says: 

when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.

In Christian art, the Holy Spirit is therefore symbolized as a dove. 

Back in Genesis, Noah sends out a third dove. 

Genesis 8:12 says: 

12 Then he waited another seven days and sent forth the dove, and she did not return to him anymore. 

The dove doesn’t return because the land has dried out. 

13 In the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried from off the earth. And Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked, and behold, the face of the ground was dry (Genesis 8:13).

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